It is World Breast Feeding Week this week (1st – 7th August). I found when I was breastfeeding my daughter, from chatting with other mums, there was a lot of fear about feeding in public. Worry about humiliation from someone shouting abuse and only thinking too late after the event the fantastic retort that should have been given! However, my experience was a good one, so if you are about to embark on the journey, here are some handy tips and words of encouragement.
Feeding in public
The first time I fed my baby in public, it was a big moment. I was convinced everyone was looking at me but then I realised, I needed to get over myself, it wasn’t about me anymore. People were generally just checking my baby out to see how old, a boy or a girl and generally just to coo. I reckon, often, they didn’t know I was feeding anyway and so I realised, I was more relaxed if I assumed this was what they were thinking.
Be prepared anyway
I’m the kind of person that should someone confront me I would bow my head and scuttle away and then regret it later. I really didn’t want this to happen with breast feeding. So I prepared and had a line in my head ready to speak out should anyone tell me they didn’t think I should feed in public. Articles in the press or on Facebook crop up every few months with a confrontation but neither I or my friends ever experienced this but it made me feel more confident having this to hand.
Online support network
A friend recommended joining ‘La Leche League’ on Facebook. I found this group such a positive force full of positive breastfeeding stories that it was just a nice read and a good source to stop me falling asleep in the chair and end up with a sore neck but also because of issues highlighted helped me be aware of signs to look out for (such as Mastitis). If you do have any issues then post on here and you'll receive a helpful response really quickly.
Physical support network
Baby cafes are popping up everywhere, they are a charitable trust and part of NCT. They are free to go to and offer support with every aspect of breastfeeding. You can chat with other breastfeeding mums and get access to one to one help from their specially trained staff whilst enjoying a cup tea – warm for a change. If you haven’t fed your baby whilst being out and about before, Baby Café is promoted as the perfect environment to bridge the gap from being at home to feeding elsewhere. Find your nearest Baby cafe here thebabycafe.org/your-nearest-baby-cafe I went here once a week and made friends that I still keep in touch with now. It was just really chilled and relaxed and if people needed help, then you could discreetly ask advice.
In most cases, baby cafes are not located in town centres. So it might be good to know when in town you can pop into Costa Coffee as they support breastfeeding. The cynic in me wonders if it may be a commercial decision to encourage the yummy mummies into their shops as a meeting point but either way, it gave me the confidence that if anyone complained I was breastfeeding, I was in a Cafe which supports it, so it was comforting and reassuring.
The most important thing is not to be put off by negative attention the media creates before you've even tried. Give it ago, and it may soon feel completely natural too.
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